The 2012 season is over. Now is the time for the college football-inclined to make half-cocked, errant predictions for 2013. We already offered our “way too early” Top 20. Here are eight coaches form major conferences who may need to watch their butts should they get off to a poor start in 2013.
Lane Kiffin [USC] The Trojans began 2012 No. 1, then lost five of six to close the season. That included three rivalry losses to Oregon, UCLA and Notre Dame and a pathetic loss to 6-7 Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl. He has a 25-13 record after three years, just 17-10 in the conference. He has no successful track record as a head coach. Kiffin gets a chance next year with a new defensive coordinator. He’s still one of the top recruiters in the country, a quality USC needs with its scholarship restrictions. He won’t survive another sour season.
Mack Brown [Texas] After the 2009 title game, Mack Brown’s team was derailed by coordinator rot and a five-star flameout at quarterback. Influxes of highly-touted recruits and coordinators have not cleared the muddle. Just 22 wins over three years. Two horrendous Oklahoma losses. The Longhorns were only the third best team in Texas and even that might be crediting them. Texas has begun resembling the Dallas Cowboys, awesome brand furnished by mediocre football operation. If they don’t at least compete in the Big 12 next year, Mack may be out. Not sure whether that would be a bigger adjustment for the team or the Longhorn Network.
Randy Edsall [Maryland] Maryland improved in Edsall’s second season with a 3-8 mark vs. FBS, which tells you how well his first season went. Their defense was Top 30. Their offense suffered so much quarterback attrition they had to start a freshman linebacker who had played in high school there. Maryland is about to increase its cash flow and expectations for football performance in the Big Ten. If Edsall does not reach a bowl game and improve on his 3-13 mark in the ACC in year three, he may not see the fourth one.
Tim Beckman [Illinois] Ron Zook can’t cook that well, but he shops at Whole Foods. Beckman inherited a 7-win team that underperformed and went 1-10 vs. FBS. His most notable achievement was getting caught dipping on camera. There was a lot of noise about him being one and done. His offensive line coach bailed on a Big Ten job for a quasi-promotion at FIU. Toledo has looked better in his absence. The Illini play Cincinnati and Washington non-conference in 2013 and drew Michigan State, Nebraska and Northwestern from the Legends. Not optimistic about his long-term future.
Kirk Ferentz [Iowa] The Hawkeyes finished 3-8 vs. FBS teams in 2012. They were fortunate while doing so, recovering 73 percent of fumbles during their games. They should have been worse. Since finishing in the top ten from 2002-04, Ferentz has won eight games during a regular season twice in eight years. He has lost back to back games against Iowa State. That’s counting neither the drug problems nor placing his players’ lives at risk. What protects him? His massive contract buyout. If fired after 2013, Iowa would owe Ferentz more than $2.6 million per year for seven years. He’ll stay, but it will be uncomfortable for all involved.
Charlie Weis [Kansas] Charlie Weis made headlines creating off-the-field controversies. His team went 0-11 vs. FBS, despite bringing in his former Notre Dame charge Dayne Crist at quarterback. Weis is gambling on a quick turnaround with a large number of JUCO recruits. Even that turnaround, though, could see Kansas fail to leave the cellar in a deep Big 12. Weis is a longshot to get fired after 2013, but only because Kansas might not be able to afford it.
Dan Mullen [Mississippi State] Two years ago: danced all over Rich Rodriguez’ coffin and was linked with Florida and Penn State. Now: Meh. Mullen has hit the ceiling with the Bulldogs, but to unrealistic boosters 7-9 wins over bad teams may look like a plateau. Losses in the Egg Bowl and to Northwestern on New Year’s won’t help matters. Nor will the excitement at every other program in the SEC West (especially at Ole Miss). Mullen is not on the hot seat currently, though in the SEC one let down season could change the situation radically.
Paul Johnson [Georgia Tech] Johnson has lost a fair bit of luster since bringing the Yellow Jackets to the Orange Bowl in 2009. Georgia Tech is 19-19 vs. FBS the past three seasons. The bowl game upset over USC helps, though this was still a 7-7 season with a 21-point loss to Middle Tennessee State at home. Georgia Tech has not finished higher than 65th nationally in total defense since Johnson’s first year. He may need Ted Roof to work his Ted Roof magic to avoid another mediocre season and some uncomfortable discussions.
[Photos via USA Today Sports]